Rotary's '4-Way Test' serves as backdrop for Kohl visit
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl had lunch with the New Richmond Rotary Club Monday.
The three-term Congressman was the special speaker for the day. Club members switched the speaking schedule around to accommodate a request from Kohl's office to visit.
Kohl used the opportunity to provide the civic organization with an update on Washington legislation. He used the international club's 4-Way test as an outline for his own political leanings.
The test: 1) Is it the truth. 2) Is it fair to all concerned. 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Kohl said he fights for truth and fairness in all his Congressional battles. An example is his recent success in adopting the Class Action Fairness Act.
He said the bill will protect consumers from unfair court settlements and protect businesses from unfair suits brought in small county courts.
He also touted recent changes in the bankruptcy laws, which still allow people to get a fresh start but also stop those who are able to pay from hiding from creditors.
Kohl also noted that health care and insurance issues need to be addressed before businesses and individuals are harmed even further.
He said he supports the re-importation of drugs to force a better price for consumers.
He said the one "test" that is often overlooked when considering federal legislation is "will it be beneficial to all concerned."
The debate over fixing Social Security is premature, Kohl claims, and everyone would be better served if a fix comes later.
He said the Social Security trust fund will remain solvent for 40 to 50 years, and even after that time 70 percent of benefits can be paid out even without an overhaul.
Kohl claims private savings accounts will do nothing for the system, and will likely put it further into debt.
Kohl also used the Rotary appearance to congratulate New Richmond officials on the work they've done to push for a new river crossing at Stillwater.
He pledged to do all he can to make sure the project moves forward.
"I will work with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to make sure the needs of this area will be met," he said.
Responding to questions from the club members, Kohl said rising fuel costs could have a dampening effect on the economy.
"It's really a big time problem," he said.
He said the government should make the development of alternative energy sources a top priority over the next decade.
Kohl predicted that within 15 years the nation will be using half as much fossil fuels as today due to emerging technology and new energy sources.
"We're getting there, but not quickly enough," he said.
Responding to a question about partisan politics, Kohl charged that President George Bush is not doing enough to bring both parties together to find compromise solutions to issues.
With the country evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, Kohl said government is only effective if there is cooperation.
"We have to find a way to work together," he said. "The country is very badly served, if not crippled, if we don't. We (Democrats) feel we've been shut out of the process."
Responding to a question about the Florida woman, Terri Shiavo, whose feeding tube was removed last week, Kohl said Congress had paved the way for federal courts to address the issue.
"It's a very complicated issue," he said. "We'll have to see how it unfolds in federal courts."
Kohl also talked about his 20-year tenure as owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team.
"It's been a lot of fun," he said, although admitting to some frustration concerning his team's inability to play defense this year.
"I really enjoy the team," he said. "For me it's a great release from the pressure of being a senator."